How to Counter Aggressive Players at the Poker Table

Dominic Field

Jun 21, 2023

Aggressive Poker Players with Guns

Anyone who has ever spent time at the poker table knows that sinking feeling. You sit down to find there’s a super-aggressive player who will not stop betting and raising. These aggressive players always seem to be sitting to your immediate left. But fear not, for, in this article, we’ll reveal the methods you need to employ in order to combat the table maniac and their aggressive style.

As frustrating as it can be dealing with a highly aggressive poker player at the table, there are ways to beat them. But first, let's learn more about them!

Different Types Of Aggressive Players

Before we jump into the different strategies for handling aggression at the poker table, we must first understand the types of players we are dealing with. Not all aggressive players are created equally, just like with any other people.

First of all, we have Tight-Aggressive (TAG) players. Since they don’t play too many hands – they are selective or tight – they are not likely to cause you as many problems with their aggressive play. That's why this article is more about those Loose-Aggressive (LAG) maniacs than the Tight-Aggressive ones. Not only do they bet heavily, but they are playing an extremely wide range of hands, which can be really problematic.

Loose-Aggressive players are forever putting you to the test. They will make continuation bets almost 100% of the time. Although they manage to pick up a lot of blinds and smaller pots from passive players, they are not selective with their bluffs. These poker players are often afraid of looking weak, so they will rarely check a missed draw or go for passive play - they will fire way too often at pots.

These traits give us a chance to counter them.

Tactics For Dealing With A Loose-Aggressive Poker Strategy

Okay, now that we’re clear on what we are dealing with, how do we combat these aggressive maniacs?

Tighten Up

Man protecting a stack of poker chipsOne of the smart poker strategies that may turn out successful against aggressive play is tightening up. In order to do it, play with a smaller number of hands than you typically do.

When there's an aggressive poker player on your left, you're naturally at a disadvantage. Namely, this opponent is able to see what you do after the flop and analyse it, as in most hands, they go last.

Such a position makes your game more difficult (unless you're a much better player than your aggressive opponent), but it doesn't mean you have to lose. To protect yourself against re-raising or bluffing, you should tighten up and play fewer hands.

An additional advantage of playing tight is that you get a range advantage when you finally decide to enter the pot. As a result, your range of calling hands is more powerful than what your opponent calls. Apart from that, you'll get more strategies to follow when going against aggressive maniacs.

Widen Your Range

Tightening up may turn out to be effective, but it doesn’t happen frequently enough to make it a rule. Especially in tournaments. So, you need to have an alternative.

One of the other ways to deal with aggressive players is to understand that they will not have good hands as often as they represent. Therefore, you can justifiably make value plays more frequently.

For instance, let’s say you’re holding a mid-sized pocket pair such as 7-7 against a Tight-Aggressive player who three-bets you. We might be looking at a bigger pair here, so we have the decision to make. However, against a Loose-Aggressive player, there’s absolutely no fear of a premium hand. They do this kind of thing every single hand and are likely to be holding junk. 7-7 is a relative monster in this situation, so go to town.

Bluff Back

Execute a bluff in pokerOn a similar note, you can be more confident that your relative hand strength is increased against such a LAG player. As a result, you can not only widen your value range, but you can increase your semi-bluff frequency.

If a LAG player comes over the top of you when you have a playable but far from premium hand, this is a good spot to take a stand against their Loose-Aggressive strategy. If you play back and semi-bluff, you’ll take it down in a good number of these spots. For the times you are called, the LAG player will see that you’re playing good hands, which helps your own table image.

Similarly, you can push your draws much harder post-flop. You know you’re likely to get action with weak hands from someone who is playing aggressively. When you do complete your draw, you’ll likely be rewarded for it. However, by taking a stab yourself, there’s always the chance that our maniac friend ditches whatever trash they are holding.

Act Weaker Than You Are

When you do get a great hand, trapping definitely comes into play. Feigning weakness is a great way to trick a LAG player. Think about how you might play a hand if you were uncertain, trying to find out where you are in a hand, or even bluffing. LAG players love weakness as it’s how they get away with bullying the table.

By pretending to be weak and simply calling them down, you can build a sizable pot before raising it at the end. True maniacs don’t slow down, so you can be almost certain that they’ll fire on every street.

Walk Away

Execute a bluff in pokerOne of the most important traits a poker player can possess is self-awareness. Without understanding your own psychology, your poker strategy will never improve. Everyone has their own triggers that put them on tilt, and people respond to different situations in different ways. Knowing when you are on tilt against these LAG players will greatly help you in figuring out how to react against them.

Sometimes, the best strategy is to leave the table when you notice that someone is playing aggressively. Of course, in a tournament, that’s not an option. Even so, you can still be selective with your battles and attempt to avoid the aggressive player. In a cash game, however, there’s no need to risk stressing yourself out and needlessly spewing cash like an ATM. If you’re not in the right headspace, don’t be a hero. Take a break and walk away.

Try Out Your New Poker Strategy Against Aggressive Poker Players

Now that you have learned the ways to counter aggressive players, what’s better than testing the methods out yourself? Develop an effective poker strategy, helping you to win with both Tight-Aggressive and Loose-Aggressive players. You can try acting weaker than you are, tightening up, widening your range, or bluffing back. In the worst-case scenario, you can walk away, but it's still better than losing lots of money.

Sign up for a free account with Natural8 and test out what you have learned today. We create opportunities for both beginners and experienced players so that everyone can find the poker table they are looking for. Good luck with your future poker games!